According to the United States Department of Labor under the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA), you can be given up to 12 weeks of medical leave in a 12-month period. Before you approach your employer about going into rehab, you want to thoroughly understand this act so that your rights are protected. The information provided here does not specifically cover military service members, so you should check with the US Department of Labor.
Who is eligible for being granted a leave? Any employee that has worked at least 1250 hours over the past 12 months for an employer that is within 75 miles and has more than 50 employees.
Are all leaves paid? Leaves can be unpaid or paid.
What are the reasons a person can ask for medical leave?
- Care of an immediate family member for a serious illness
- Serious health condition of the employee prohibits them from working
What protection does a person get from this law? For people who requested and were granted leave, the employer must return the employee back to the position in which they left (or an equivalent) with the same benefits, pay, and status. In addition, the employer is required to maintain the employee’s current health care plan. The law also protects employees that are on unpaid leave by requiring the employer to pay the insurance premiums in installments while on leave or in full upon their return to work.
Can an employer fire an employee for going to rehab? If a person chooses to enter an inpatient drug rehab program, the FMLA law protects them from being terminated.
Why did my friend get fired? A person can be fired if their addictive behavior impacted their ability to perform their job. If a person’s addiction increased their absenteeism or decreased their work performance, the employer has the right to follow their standard operating procedures regarding a person who is not doing their job.
How should I proceed? Working with your employer in a constructive manner is your best bet for maintaining employment after addiction recovery. You will want to understand what their concerns may be about how your work activities will be managed while you are on leave. You also need to have a clear understanding of how to request leave in as seamless a manner as possible. By being upfront with your employer you demonstrate your commitment to the company. In turn, they will realize that you are doing what is in your best interest and ultimately what is in their best interest as well by going into addiction rehabilitation.